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Ignacio Rubio Somoza

Career Track Fellows
Ignacio Rubio Somoza
Ramón y Cajal Researcher
Research Program:Research Group:
Molecular Reprogramming and Evolution (MoRE)


Office Tel. +34 935636600 ext 3113
Campus UAB - Edifici CRAG | 08193 Cerdanyola | BARCELONA

ignacio.rubio [at] cragenomica.es

Professional Experience

2015-currently: Group Leader at CRAG, Barcelona (Spain)

2006-2015: Postdoctoral Fellow at Weigelworld, Dpt. Molecular Biology, MPI for Developmental Biology, Tuebingen (Germany).

2006: CSIC I3P Postdoctoral fellow at Roberto Solano Lab, CNB, Madrid (Spain).

2001-2005: PhD in Biology, Pilar Carbonero Lab, Dpt. Biotechnology, UPM, Madrid (Spain).

Research interest

My core interest is to study the intersection between the regulation of genetic programs controlling plant development and defense to pathogens. Pathogen pressure is constant and both animals and plants have developed sophisticated molecular mechanisms to perceive and defend themselves against pathogens in order to maximize their fitness. In response, pathogens have developed countermeasures to elude host defense programs, and thus ensues an ongoing arms race between host and pathogen. Despite the impact that defense to pathogens has on host fitness, or developmental outcomes, the co-evolution of genetic programs controlling both development and defense remains under-explored. One central question is how defense programs condition development trajectories or life-history strategies. According to my current research, miRNA-TF circuits are an obvious starting point to assess such questions. Importantly, the cellular machinery responsible for the biogenesis and action of miRNAs is a component of the antiviral immunity system in plants as well as in other organisms such as D. melanogaster and C. elegans. To evade host defenses, viral genomes encode for proteins, known as effectors, which act to supress the RNA silencing machinery. Recently, it has been shown that this strategy is also employed by non-viral pathogens (bacteria and oomycetes). Effector-mediated perturbation of the miRNA machinery increases the activity of miRNA targets which in turn leads to cellular reprogramming and subsequently to both development and immune-related phenotypes. Accordingly, C. elegans individuals compromised in the production of miRNAs show altered longevity and increased defense against one of its main pathogens, B. thuringiensis. The MoRE Lab combines state-of-the-art technologies, including the ones based in NGS, together with genetics, cell and molecular biology and physiology to address the following biological questions:

• When and where do pathogens dismantle host miRNA machinery during the course of infection?

• How does this perturbation lead to host cell reprogramming and what are the consequences of reprogramming for pathogen fitness and host development?

• Is host cell and developmental reprogramming conserved and can comparative studies improve our understanding of this process?.

Selected Publications

Rubio-Somoza I, Zhang Y-C, Confraria A, Martinho C, von Born P, Baena-Gonzalez E, Wang J-W and Weigel D.

(2014). Temporal control of leaf complexity by miRNA-controlled licensing of protein complexes.

Current Biology 24(22): 2714-2719.

Rubio-Somoza I.* and Weigel D.

(2013). Coordination of flower maturation by a regulatory circuit of three microRNAs.

PLoS Genetics 9(3), e1003374.

Rubio-Somoza I* and Weigel D.

(2011). MiRNA networks and plant developmental plasticity.

Trends in Plant Science 16(5), 258-264.

Todesco M*, Rubio-Somoza I*, Paz-Ares J and Weigel D.

(2010). A collection of target mmics for comprehensive análisis of microRNA function in Arabidopsis Thaliana.

PLoS Genetics 6(7), e1001031.

Rubio-Somoza I, Cuperus JT, Weigel D and Carrington JC.

(2009). Regulation and functional specialization of Small RNA-target nodes during plant development.

Current Opinion in Plant Biology 12, 622-627.

Awards and Funding

2017 “Ramón y Cajal” Program Fellow.

2016 “Host cell reprogramming under pathogen pressure”. Grant awarded as PI by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

2008 EMBO long term fellowship.

2006 Postdoctoral fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Science.

2006 I3P Postdoctoral contract from CSIC.

2005 Best PhD thesis award from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Spain.

2001 FPI fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education.